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ART. III.-1. PAUL DE KOCK-Euvres Complètes. 80 vols. Paris, 1835.
2. VICTOR HUGO-Bug Jargal.
Hans d'Islande. 2 vols. Notre Dame de Paris. 3 vols. Dernier Jour d'un Condamné. Paris, 1820-1835.
3. ALEX. DUMAS-Souvenirs d'Antony. Paris. 1835. 4. DE BALSA C-Le Vicaire des Ardennes. 2 vols. Annette et le Criminel. 2 vols. Physiologie du Mariage. 2 vols. Cent Contes Drolatiques. 2 vols. Le Dernier Chouan. La Peau de Chagrin. 2 vols. Le Médecin de Campagne. 2 vols. Scènes de la Vie privée. 6 vols. Scènes de la Vie Parisienne. 4 vols. Scènes de la Vie de Province. 2 vols. Le Livre Mystique. 2 vols. Paris, 1822-1835. 5. MICHAL RAYMOND-Le Maçon. 2 vols. Les Intimes. 2 vols. Le Secret. 2 vols. Simon le Borgne. 2 vols. Contes de l'Attelier. 2 vols. Le Puritain de Seine et Marne. Paris, 1831-1835.
6. MICHEL MASSON-Nouveaux Contes de l'Attelier. 2 vols. Un Cœur de Jeune Fille. 1834-1835.
7. GEORGE SAND-Indiana. 2 vols. Le Secrétaire Intime. 2 vols. Metella. La Marquise. Lavinia. Valentine. 2 vols. Rose et Blanche. 2 vols. Lelia. 2 vols. Jacques. 2 vols. André. Leone Leoni. Paris, 1831-1835.
IN N the exposure, in our CIst Number, of the profligacy of the modern French drama-which must have so much surprised our English readers, and which, we are glad to repeat,* has not been without its beneficial influence in France-we stated that, though we began with the drama as the most urgent evil, the novels of the day exhibited similar extravagances, absurdity, and immorality.'
It was not without considerable hesitation that we undertook to bring that mass of profligacy before the eyes of the British public. We feared that the very names now transcribed might seem to sully our page; and we were not without apprehension that some of those whose feelings it is at once our desire and our duty to consult might think that more of harm might be done by advertising, as it were, such works, than of good by their exposure. These opinions were not without their weight on our minds, but we thought, on the whole, and we are, on re-consideration, more and more satisfied, that the preponderance is the other way. The
* See Quarterly Review, vol. lii. p. 276, note,-to which we have to add, that the absurd decision there mentioned as having been given, by one of the tribunals, in favour of M. Dumas-obliging the manager of the Théâtre Français to play "Antony," or to pay Dumas a nightly indemnity,'—has been (but only lately) reversed, on appeal. By the laws passed in consequence of the Fieschi plot, the government have now the power of controlling dramatic representations.
VOL. LVI. NO. CX1.
habit of labelling vials or packets of POISON with that cautionary description may, though very rarely, have prompted or facilitated a murder or a suicide-but how many ignorant and heedless persons has it not saved from destruction! Since we cannot prohibit the sale of poison, and since every one knows that opium and arsenic are to be had at every apothecary's shop, the common sense of mankind demands that the danger should be pointed out in legible characters. These considerations induce us to bring to the attention of our readers the novelists of the modern French school, who, as we shall see, are, if possible, still more immoral than the dramatists. If, indeed, ours was the only channel by which the existence of such works could be known, uo consideration would induce us to mention them; but when it is notorious that they are advertised in a thousand ways over the whole reading world-when we see them exhibited even in London in the windows of respectable shops-when they are to be had in circulating libraries-when we know, as we do knowthat they find their way, under the specious title of the last new novel,' into the hands of persons wholly or partially ignorant of their real character-nay, into ladies' book clubs—we feel that it is our duty to stigmatize them with a BRAND which may awaken the attention of those who, not condescending themselves to read what they may consider as mere harmless trash, might and do unconsciously permit these conductors of moral contagion to infect their dwellings.
But there is another more extended and not less important view of this question. Such publications pervert not only private but public morals-they deprave not only individuals but nations, and are alternately the cause and the consequence of a spirit which threatens the whole fabric of European society. The local position of France, in the centre of the civilized world-her contact and communication with so many nations-the universality of her language, and the influence, moral as well as political, which she must necessarily have on all her neighbours-that is, on all Europe-give to all Europe an interest in the principles with which the public opinion of France may be imbued, almost as great as that they feel for their own internal condition. The unfortunate Revolution of 1830-more unfortunate, we fear, in morals than even in politics-has, by the unanimous admission of friends and foes, shaken not only all governments, but all opinions. The MOUNTAIN which, in 1793, affrighted and desolated the world with its volcanic explosions, now pours from the same crater a less noisy but more spreading and destructive deluge of molten lava. Of the heat and direction of this new Phlegethon we believe that the literature of France is the least fallible index;
and considering the extraordinary and disproportionate share which plays and novels have usurped in that literature, and the demoralizing characteristics which they exhibit, with, as regards novels, growing intensity, we cannot, in justice to ourselves, our country, and the world, refrain from endeavouring to expose a danger which is only the more formidable because, to the careless or short-sighted, it may appear trivial or remote.
Warburton attributes to the French the invention of the whole art of novel-writing, from the great heroical romance down to 'the little amatory novel, which,' he says, 'succeeded these voluminous extravagances, and introduced-a worse evil than the corruption of the taste-a corruption of the heart;' but from this licentious style, he adds, they also first escaped by discovering the true secret by which alone fictitious narrative could be made really amusing or improving- and this was by a faithful and chaste copy of real life and manners.'
Without entering into the claims of Spain to the invention of the heroical romance, or of Italy to that of the little amatory novel, (by which we suppose Warburton must have meant the old fabliaux or tales in the Boccaccio style,*) we doubt whether he is quite correct in the chronological order which he assigns to these styles. The vogue of the Decameron and the Nouvelles de la Reine de Navarre was contemporaneous with that of the great body of the heroic romance. The elegant little novels of Madame de Lafayette, and the immortal works of Lesage, followed close behind the pompous march of Le Grand Cyrus and Pharamond; and Madame de Sevigné, the friend and admirer of Madame de Lafayette, still loved to linger in the interminable labyrinths of Clélie and Cassandre. Nor do we understand on what grounds Warburton (writing about 1749) could congratulate the world that the chaste picture of real life had driven the licentious novel out of fashion. Crebillon the younger-whom we take to be the first, or at least the first remarkable novelist in the licentious line-was only born in the same year (1707) in which Lesage produced his admirable Diable Boiteux;' and was but eight years old when Gil Blas' appeared-the cleverest picture, we incline to think, of real life and manners that ever has been drawn and the worst, and most popular, of Crebillon's pieces was posterior to the tedious moralities of Marivaux (which Warburton quotes as the evidence
*The Milesian Tales of the ancients were probably of this class. Ovid, reproaching Rome with his own exile, says,
"Junxit Aristides Milesia carmina secum,
But mark the consequence of such corruption, in the words of Ovid's Annotator :— "Milesiorum, deliciis et lasciviâ infamatorum, qui denique Miletum florentissimam urbem perdiderunt!'
of the improvement of the public taste); and was indeed at the height of its favour about the time that Warburton was hazarding those broad assertions on a subject of which he must have been, we are willing to suppose, but imperfectly informed. That Crebillon soon fell into disrepute with all persons of good morals and good taste-if indeed we can suppose that such persons could, even for a moment, have tolerated his works-we readily admit; but every one, at all acquainted with the popular literature of France, knows too well that they extended to a very late period their baneful influence in those classes among which their contagion was most fatal to public morals. Indeed, it was not till the bolder, deeper, and more enthusiastic licentiousness of modern authors had made Crebillon appear fade' and tasteless that he ceased to be the delight of the youth of both sexes. Thirty years after the publication of Les Egaremens du Cœur et de l'Esprit, Sterne-(would that this were the only point in which this examination reminds us of Sterne !)-Sterne describes the fille de chambre of a lady of rank as asking for this work openly at a bookseller's; and so it continued down to the Revolution.
After Crebillon came Voltaire, who, though he can hardly be called a novelist in the limited sense in which we are now using the word, had a deplorable influence on this as on almost every other branch of literature. His Tales did not pretend to be representations of real life. They are not novels but satires, in which a fable-generally an extravagant one of Oriental features -is made the vehicle of all that wit, gaiety, and malignity could combine to ridicule, discredit, and destroy the civil and religious institutions of his country. The mischief, however, that they did was more political than moral,-they were calculated rather to pervert the mind than to inflame the passions; and though, as might be expected, his sedition and impiety were mixed up with gross indecencies, we cannot attribute to them anything like the same deleterious effect on individual morals that were produced by Crebillon, or by some nearly contemporaneous works of a graver character and less offensive style-we mean those of Rousseau.
We confess that we never could feel what has been called the magic of Rousseau; we even go so far as to own that putting out of the question the moral depravity of his writings-we have the misfortune to be somewhat heretical in our opinion of his literary merit. The Nouvelle Héloïse, his great work, and that which is principally connected with our present subject, always wearied us-wearied us, even in our youth, by what we thought its false sensibility and verbose eloquence, as much as, in our mature age, it disgusts us by its false reasoning and its perverted principles. Is this mere bad taste on our parts? or is
it, as we of course are disposed to believe, that Rousseau's literary merit has little to do with his present reputation, which may be rather attributed to the success of those revolutionary paradoxes on the nature of government and the constitution of society, which he first explained and familiarized, and which have since, by a disastrous combination of circumstances, obtained such an ascendency in the literary and political opinions of France. But why should the influence of Rousseau appearas it certainly has of late done-so much deeper and more permanent than that of Voltaire?-Voltaire is only read, quoted, and admired; but Rousseau has made a sect, and is followed and adored-Why?-Because Voltaire was only a genius, and Rousseau was a madman. For one who has pretended to ape Voltaire even in his lowest qualities, there are hundreds who have imitated Rousseau in his highest. Candide and Zadig have had-fortunately for society-nothing like a rival; Héloïse—as unfortunately-has had an hundred-exemplar vitiis imitabile. There is hardly one of the crowd of volumes enumerated at the head of this article which is not of the school of Rousseau; and M. de Balzac, the most fertile, and not the most offensive of the fraternity of French novelists, in a work (the very name of which we do not venture to specify) in which he pretends to examine some important questions of social life, refers us, at once, to Rousseau as the standard and text book of public morals—'Ouvrez,' " says, ouvrez Rousseau-car il ne s'agira aucune question de morale publique dont il n'ait, d'avance, indiqué la portée.' It cannot, therefore, be out of place or out of season to remind our readers of some portion of the personal history of this Apostle of Disorder.
A baser, meaner, filthier scoundrel never polluted society than M. de Balsac's standard of public morals,' nor one who better exemplified the divine warning-'Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so a good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.'
We have called Rousseau a madman, and such he undoubtedly was. Originally mad, in some degree, from constitutional infirmity, but completely disordered with the drunken vanity of some accidental, and by no means creditable, successes which surprised and overset the course and projects of his earlier life. His father was a poor watchmaker at Geneva, (where watchmaking is the commonest trade,) who, not without pecuniary difficulty, sent him to an humble school, and endeavoured to give him an honest trade; but Rousseau-being detected in lying and thievingeloped from his business, his family, and his country; and, after some experimental vagrancy, had recourse to apostacy to appease